A Call to Service – “because that’s what we do.”

History was made yesterday at Valley Medical Center.

In a moving ceremony, our new flagpoles were commissioned and the colors flown, thanks to our own VMC Color Guard, Veteran Marines all, from VMC’s Protective Services Department. No ceremony like it had ever taken place before. The need was a result of Measure A’s passing in 2008, requiring the installation of new flagpoles (the old ones are where the new hospital will go).

Also, for the very first time, the POW/MIA flag now joins the California Flag and the Stars and Stripes. Colonel Dean Winslow, M.D., who actively serves in the Air Force while also as Medical Director of VMC’s PACE Clinic, thanked the administrators of YOUR public medical center for the opportunity to do both. His tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan are only part of his riviting personal story.

(Photos are here, courtesy of Flickr and VMC’s Luis Gonzalez)

Perhaps the most moving speech of the day was delivered by retired Colonel William Peacock. I’m proud to call Bill a friend, and his service to our nation goes back to his time in the White House under Carter and Reagan, and before that, Viet Nam. Bill is also a member of the Soverign Order of St. John, which has built hospitals around the world for over a thousand years.

Below is a transcript of his speech, which perfectly brought home the idea of service – both in the military and the medical field. PLEASE READ AND SHARE with others…this one deserves to be spread around:

To all veterans and Colonel Winslow, MD: I honor you for your noble service in our nation’s latest wars, and in many ways I wish I could join you. It is probably best, however, that I do not join in this expedition because we all know that we old veterans are pretty cranky and doggone impatient, and in this new and different kind of battle, as it is coming to be well known, patience is more a virtue in this new kind of war than it may have been in our earlier and seemingly simpler military conflicts.

In this connection, just the other day, an email came over the net that showed a photograph of an Army medic, the same caliber youngster as a Navy corpsman. Please note my pronunciation of “corpsman,” for those who follow the news. [laughter, especially from the vets in the crowd].

The medic was carrying on his back a badly wounded Iraqi soldier through the middle of a vicious firefight. A member of the European press yelled out in a jeering and derisive manner to the U.S. Army medic as he ran with this heavy and bleeding body in the “fireman’s carry” to the nearest combat medical facility. The foreign cameraman yelled out, “Why are you risking your life for him? He’s only an Iraqi.”

The American soldier replied through gritted teeth, “Because that’s what we do.”

A great phrase, “That’s what we do!” Think about it: it applies with near-perfect congruence to what every man and woman here at Valley Medical Center does every hour of every day, 24/7, 365. That is what you do—you take care of them all—the sick, the wounded, the needy, the disenfranchised, the poor. Just like our nation’s Army medics and the Navy corpsman. You take them all: That’s what you do.

So it is all too fitting that proud members of your military, past and present, are here, standing tall to honor you, the women and men of Valley Medical Center, as you dedicate and commission your new flagpole: a flagpole that flies at its apogee the stars and stripes, a symbol of freedom known everywhere on this troubled planet.

So too it is fitting that Captain Schork, his Honor Guard of Marines, Colonel Dean Winslow, MD of the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps, and I, a Vietnam era Marine, salute you: because you, the people of VMC, here safe in Silicon Valley, are a very close analogy to our front-line combat troops. Why? Because like the troops, you could exercise your freedom of choice and do something else all day or all night, but you choose to care for them all. Therefore, you may have other slogans, but I suggest that underlying it all is the crystal clear ringing phrase: “That is what we do.”

For your service to others, may God bless and thank you.

Col. Bill Peacock, retired Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs)

VMC Foundation Board Chairperson Norman Kline was a natural choice

Entrepreneur, Mayor, Community Leader – Norman Kline, President of Library World Inc. and former Mayor of Saratoga, added a new title to his resume in January – Chairperson of the VMC Foundation Board of Directors. Norman has served on the Board since 2007. His ascension to Chairperson is not only an acknowledgment of his contributions to the Foundation, but of the important role he plays as a business and civic leader in Santa Clara County.

“Norm has a unique combination of business sense, political acumen and a passion for community involvement,” said VMC Foundation Executive Director Chris Wilder. “He was a natural choice to be our next Chair, and we are grateful for his leadership.”

Norman’s involvement with VMC started very early in life – at the very beginning, to be exact. Born at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, Norman and his family relied on VMC for their care throughout his childhood, be it for check-ups or trips to the Emergency Room. He grew up in San Jose, attending public schools. In his junior year of high school, he served as the student representative to the San Jose Unified School District Board of Directors. It was his first foray into public office, and clearly inspired a lifetime of civic engagement.

“You can really change the world in local politics,” he said. “You can build a park, increase community access to transportation, help a hospital…do things that would surprise most people.”

Norman served on the Saratoga City Council from 2002 – 2006, and as Mayor during a portion of that term. He serves on numerous local boards and commissions, and takes an active role in local politics.

He also has a day job, running a successful business with customers world-wide. Library World provides online inventory management tools to school, university, public and private libraries throughout the United States, Asia and Europe. Headquartered in San Jose, Norman hopes to expand the company to serve10,000 facilities in the coming years.

“He is a classic Silicon Valley entrepreneur,” said Wilder. “Smart, strategic, and self-made.”

As Chairperson, Norman says he looks forward to promoting the VMC Foundation Capital Campaign. With funds from the voter-approved Measure A, VMC is in the process of replacing outdated facilities that do not meet California earthquake safety standards with a new hospital wing. While Measure A will pay for construction costs, millions more are needed to outfit the building with the best possible equipment. It will be a major undertaking, given the economy and decline in charitable giving.

But it is a challenge that Norman will face head on. After all, he knows the value of VMC to the next generation. The young patient of today could be a mayor, entrepreneur or community leader of tomorrow. Or, in Norman’s case, all of the above.

Unveiling VMC’s Sobrato Cancer Center Donor Wall

In 2009, Valley Medical Center opened a new, world class outpatient cancer treatment center, named for the Sobrato family. It is open to all, regardless of ability to pay.

Thanks to John Sobrato and other generous donors, like Peggy Fleming Jenkins and Dr. Greg Jenkins, the VMC Foundation raised over $2 million in support of the center. On March 19, the Foundation hosted these donors – and many others – to unveil a commemorative donor wall in the lobby of theSobratoCancerCenter.

“You all know that most of the patients here are not insured. Approximately 80% of the people who are treated here, whether its cancer or something else, are not able to pay,” said Sobrato at the event. “It’s because of the foresight of elected officials like Susie Wilson years ago that set up this hospital to take care of those folks that makes me proud to live in Silicon Valley, where we take care of our own.”

Thanks to our generous donors, VMC is able to take care of this community. Thank you to everyone who came out for this special event.

Thanking our donors: A selfish thing to do…

Friday marked the unveiling of the VMC Foundation’s new Donor Wall outside the Sobrato Cancer Center in the newest building on VMC’s campus. VIP’s and wealthy philanthropists mingled with doctors, nurses and administrators as we celebrated the generosity of our community.

…and I’ve gotta say, A little gratitude goes a long way.

For one thing, our staff and that of VMC felt so good to hear from our donors, including the famous Peggy Fleming-Jenkins and her talented wine-making husband, Dr. Greg Jenkins. They pulled back the curtain to reveal the new beautiful donor wall, and we all felt a surge of pride.

But hearing John A. Sobrato tell the group why he is so committed to VMC, well that is a gift so heartfelt and powerful, I feel like we all came away enriched. Yes, I know that sounds overly-emotional, but if you were there, then you know.

…and if you weren’t there, please read this wonderful blog post from Erica Cosgrove, regular contributor to the Silicon Valley Moms Blog. She describes the day better than I ever could. If you’re moved by what you read, please share it with others. Our donors deserve the notoriety, and frankly, so does the beautiful Sobrato Cancer Center at VMC.

If you’re REALLY moved, please visit

A Social Media Minute with Ed Bennett

On Tuesday March 9, VMC Foundation Executive Director Chris Wilder presented alongside University of Maryland Medical Center Director of Web Strategy, Ed Bennett at the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI) conference in San Diego. Both presented on their hospitals use of Social Media.

Ed Bennett is often described as a Social Media “guru” in his field of work. He is constantly working to break down the stigmas and barriers hospitals and related institutions (like the VMC Foundation) face when venturing into Social Media communications. His research on how hospitals use Social Media has led to an increased appreciation of its benefits, specifically around the ROI of Social Media. Head to TheMarketingheaven.com to get a better audience reach.

When asked about the ROI for hospitals using Social Media, Ed is always quick to fire back: “Well, what is the ROI of putting your pants on in the morning?” He sees this form of communication as something that hospitals are just expected to do now. We couldn’t agree more, Ed! Chris found a few minutes to sit down and discuss the importance of hospitals using these tools for our segment, A Social Media Minute.

Are you “Dining Out for Life” in April?

One of the VMC Foundation’s important community allies, The Health Trust of Silicon Valley, invites you to attend “Dining Out for Life.” On Thursday, April 29, 2010, participating restaurants across Silicon Valley will contribute a portion of your bill to the fight against HIV/AIDS.

For a complete list of participating restaurants and for more information, go to: www.healthtrust.org/diningoutforlife or call 408.559.9385

Social Media…what are we doing here, anyway?

San Diego, CA – This year’s conference of the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions (thankfully known as NACHRI) included a workshop on how medical centers can and should be using social media.

The presenters were me, Ed Bennett and Deb Braidic. Ed directs media strategy for the University of Maryland Medical System, and Deb manages web content for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. We had a great time and I think the audience did too…some came all the way from the UK to be there, and if the tweets and comments and reports are an indication, we rocked the house.

Here are a few take-aways, without attributing them to any of us (we were all brilliant, of course):

• Hospitals are behind in using social media, and most that do are large institutions. Out of 6,000 hospitals in the USA, only 557 have social media accounts.

• Almost all block employee access to social media, yet the rules about privacy or “wasting time at work” are the same as with email…and nobody blocks that!

• Best quote of the conference: “The control issue of social media is very important to people who care about being in control”.

• …which is why we all should do social media: We are NOT in control of our own message anymore. Time to face that reality.

• Social media can help win campaigns (2008’s Measure A), can help keep donors connected, and spread the word faster than ever before. Get cheapest instagram likes to get better reach.

• Therefore, don’t worry about the ROI just yet…focus on ROC: Return on connections. Besides, these tools are free and don’t take up too much time.

• 5 years from now, a conference like this will sound as silly as one advertising “the strategic uses of the fax machine.” This is increasingly how people communicate, and there’s no going back.

To see more comments and links to the four-hour discussion, search for #2010cc in Twitter. What? You don’t use Twitter? You should, in my not-very-humble opinion. It’s fun and keeps you connected…you can use it to populate your Facebook status as well. No, Facebook and Twitter are NOT just for 16-year-olds. They really can help medical centers reach the audience they seek – I know it works for the VMC Foundation.

http://http://bit.ly/b3F7AU for more on my presentation…thanks NACHRI, Deb and Ed!

VMC Foundation: Jobs, health, and Silicon Valley

Next Friday, please consider attending a breakfast forum I’m helping present…and I promise you’ll be glad you did, because it’s important and engaging.

I’m in this year’s class of American Leadership Forum, and our event Friday March 12 is called “A New Recipe for Job Growth.” What it WON’T be is a typical “panel discussion with Q&A.” Rather, you will be a participant in this uncommon conversation aimed at solving what many feel is our #1 problem: Jobs.

How does the VMC Foundation fit in? That’s easy: Your public hospital’s patient population is soaring as unprecedented numbers of people have lost their jobs/ health coverage and are turning to VMC. The stress is at an all-time high, and we’ve got to do something. Several things, actually.

Silicon Valley’s unemployment rate is WAY higher than the national average. Add to that Colorado’s Governor declaring “Colorado Loves California” Day last month, trying to lure companies away from here to relocate there. Yikes.

We’ve assembled a top group of leaders to participate in this critical discussion. Please be one of them, and register by clicking here.


A New Recipe for Regional Job Growth – a Conversation for Change
Friday, March 12, 7:30 am – 10:30am
Computer History Museum
1401 North Shoreline Blvd, Mountain View, CA
$25 general, $15 seniors/nonprofits, free for students

Hope to see you there!

A New Recipe for Regional Job Growth; A Conversation for Change

VMC Foundation Executive Director Chris Wilder just posted this event on his blog, The Wilder Side of Health, but we at Lifelines wanted to invite you to attend as well!

For registration and full details, click here

Santa Clara County unveils Healthy Workers program

While the debate on health care reform rages on in Washington, local leaders in Silicon Valley are getting it done. From the same coalition that created the wildly successful Children’s Health Initiative in 2001 comes a new effort to provide affordable health insurance to the employees of local small businesses. The new program, called “Healthy Workers,” kicked off Monday with a press conference on the campus of Valley Medical Center.

Through a unique partnership with small businesses, community organizations, and the public health care system, the coalition has created a new insurance product that is affordable and comprehensive. Check out the video below, featuring Bob Brownstein of Working Partnerships USA and Elizabeth Darrow from the Santa Clara Family Health Plan.